HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (BP)--A Southern Baptist congregation's emphasis on health and fitness has sparked a primetime series devoted to reversing a trend in a city regarded as one of the nation's most obese.
Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" is set for a two-hour premier March 26 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC, and First Baptist Church in Kenova, W.Va., in the Huntington area is featured throughout the six-week series.
"More people are dying due to complications from obesity than alcohol and tobacco use combined. Why isn't the church at the forefront of this?"
-- West Virginia pastor Steve Willis
"I started noticing all the health problems we had due to obesity. It sounds so strong, but that's what it was," said Steve Willis, First Baptist's pastor, said. "We had a lot of health issues. I also started noticing when I was traveling around to other cities that people were just in a lot better shape.
"Just walking around the malls out in California and the beach area, people were in a lot better physical condition than here," Willis told Baptist Press. "I remember saying to my wife, 'It seems like every direction I go from home, everybody gets thinner.'"
Willis discussed the matter with the church leaders last summer and told them that even though it's an uncomfortable issue to address, obesity is a serious problem.
"Unlike the sins of pornography and just about every sin that we commit, people that struggle with gluttony, it's very obvious," Willis said. "So if I start preaching about that on Sunday morning, people are going to feel singled out.... Read More